Happy New Year from Fran

Hello delightful you,

This is a time for natural reflection as we look back on 2011 and look forward to 2012, I hope it has been a good year for you.

I don’t subscribe to the rather harsh and unforgiving New Year’s resolutions, which often lie deserted in a crumpled heap come mid February. I think a healthier and kinder practice is to  forgive yourself for any mistakes or wrong turnings you feel you might have made this year. Gently look for the learning there (and there is always learning!) dust yourself off as you would kindly to a toddler who took a stumble, and re-direct your course.

Take time to celebrate your achievements, they may be big obvious ones as recognised by the world, like finishing your degree or moving house, or they may be tiny unnoticed ones. These are almost more important, only you know how hard it was to start that sketchbook, approach that stranger or how you spent time getting to know your shadow self. Only you can applaud your courage, so please do so, acknowledgement is really important. When you are upholding things you do well you can continue to do them, instead of focusing on what you don’t want, look at what you do well and  extend your wonderfulness.

I wish you a wonderful New Year.

Small Stones

I have an exciting project I’m launching tomorrow to celebrate the new year with a happy new website. I’m participating in ‘Small Stones’ challenge. This means posting up a small piece of writing, a very immediate and personal piece which will tell you about me and my moments in a way you have never heard before! I have also decided to post up a photo or a art work each day, some from my day to day life as I travel in Mexico, some from my ever growing collection of images I’d like to share with you.

I’d be so delighted if you would join me there and please take the time to comment, it means so much.

You can find me here www.franriley.com

Also, have a look at some of my highlights in this Smile Box slideshow I put together.

Muchas Gracias Amigos

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No sleep to Chiapas

Our garden

Buses in Mexico are fantastic, you can go pretty much anywhere in relative comfort and cheaply too.  Thus we left the familiarity of Oaxaca for the Southern mountain town of San Cristóbal de las Casas in the state of Chiapas.  The bus left Oaxaca at 8.30pm and arrived at 7.30am – a bit of a journey! The seats were very comfortable but I managed about an hour’s sleep, Fran did a bit better, but we arrived feeling pretty exhausted and weird from lack of sleep.

Our BedroomOur new home for the next six weeks or so was to be Casa Rosada, an apartment in the central part of the city.  We had booked this some time ago on the internet and had arranged to meet someone outside the house at 8.30am, (we thought the bus arrived later) so we had to wait for 50 minutes outside the house on the street.  There was a lot of activity going on as we are opposite the store house for the local market, so there was a constant stream of people with massively loaded barrows and hand-carts taking their stalls to the market site just around the block. 8.30 came and went and no sign of our host, we gave it another 20 minutes but still nada. As you can imagine we were getting pretty tired and fed up by now, so we tried to call him, eventually getting through after some confusion with public telephones and cell phone codes (don’t ask).  Anyway, turns out we were supposed to be there yesterday, oops…. Luckily the next door neighbour had a key and came out to rescue us.  His name is John and he is a Mexican/American living here in San Cristobal for part of the year.  It was a relief to get in and John gave us the low down on the place and we finally flopped down for some sleep.

The first few days at Casa Rosada were difficult, mainly because it was so cold!  We were so used to the constant warmth in Oaxaca and it came as quite a shock as the temperature was way down at about 8 degrees celsius.  Also we could not get the Boiler working and the apartment seemed generally bloody freezing.  We were both feeling a bit like orphans as well because we had left all our friends behind in Oaxaca and knew not a soul here.  Eventually after a few days and with the help of Sebastian, our Mexican host, we got on a more even keel and things seemed a bit brighter.

The surrounding mountainsSan Cristobal is a fascinating city, a lot smaller than Oaxaca and with very high indigenous Mayan population. We have been walking around the shiny pavements and taking in the cafes and restaurants.  There is a more ‘alternative’ culture here, alongside the Mayan influence, the European side of things seems more geared towards new age styles. There is a big Zapatista presence here as well which is very tangible in all the graffiti everywhere. (San Cristobal was the centre of the Zapatista uprising in 1994). (See guide books/wikipedia for more blah).

It’s good to be somewhere else, although we are missing our friends and of course there’s Christmas and all that at the back of our minds.  I’m not sure if I care or about Christmas itself, but it’s definitely a time of year when friends and family are important and we are so far away.  We also decided not to go to Nicaragua, so we are going to miss our pal Austin which is a great sadness for us, (abrazos to you mate). Still, here we are a third of the way through our trip and soon we will kiss goodbye to Mexico, there’s still plenty of things to do here but the idea of New Zealand is looming…

Over the next few weeks we will be exploring more of the area, but here is a gallery of pics of what we’ve been up to so far. Hope you enjoy and don’t forget to comment too..